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Shiitake Mushroom Facts & Benefits

by ARIEL MOGHADDAM |

Shiitakes are a popular mushroom consumed all around the world. The rich meaty flavor is amazing raw, grilled, by itself, or in a dish, but it's not just a culinary item. They're the second most popular mushroom in the world, next to button mushrooms.

If being incredibly delicious isn't a good enough reason to add shiitake mushrooms to your diet, they also have a full host of amazing benefits to go along with it.

May Help With Obesity

You wouldn't think a mushroom that tastes so good could actually help you lose weight, but according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Obesity, that's exactly the case. In the study, rats were fed a high fat diet along with small, medium, and large amounts of shiitake mushrooms. The group that ate the most shiitake mushrooms had 35% lower weight gains than the other rats. Since high fat diets are generally associated with fast weight gain, this is encouraging news.

If it transfers well to humans, that could mean a possible treatment for obese patients. Even though trials in humans are not yet under way, there's no reason why you can't see how well shiitakes work for your own weight loss program.

May Help Treat Certain Types of Cancer

Many different mushrooms have the power to prevent cancer, or reduce tumor size in those who already have cancer. shiitakes are among those mushrooms. shiitakes can help fight leukemia in particular, due to lentinan. Lentinan is a β-glucan that is known to surpress leukemia cell proliferation.

shiitakes can also help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, and improves the life expectency of patients with pancreatic cancer. They unfortunately appear to have no effect on prostate cancer.

Boosts Immunity

Shiitake mushrooms have the ability to boost immune function in a few different ways. They are prebiotics, which means they feed the good bacteria in our guts that we depend on for immune function. By giving these bacteria the food they need, you are in turn supporting and strengthening your immune system.

These prebiotics are so powerful, they were able to reduce some of the immune system losses associated with old age, at least in mice.  In a 2015 study conducted in humans, researchers found that young adults who ate shiitake mushrooms every day saw an improved immune response as well. This is exciting news, because it confirms the research done in mice are transferable to humans.

Side Effects

As a common food item, shiitake mushrooms have been well documented as safe to eat, even over a long period of time. The potential for allergy is always there, and those who are allergic to fungi or mold should not eat shiitakes due to the risk of being allergic.

Shiitake mushrooms are otherwise generally recognized as safe, and are also safe for pregnant and nursing women.

Shiitake mushrooms are delicious, and packed with nutrition as well as immune boosting, cancer busting, properties. They are a perfect addition to your diet, and have so much to offer those who eat

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